The AICLU project for 
Linguistic Competence Certification  
in Italian Universities

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The prototype CERCLU exams for B1 and B2 levels in English and Italian are at the operative stage in the nine partner universities, where they have been experimented in order to validate the work done (language contents, marking system, evaluation criteria and technical aspects) and arrive at a quality product. Results of the first administration allowed us to take decisions about the following:

  • Number of items (text and related questions). As each of the four subtests has been given a different format, a careful analysis of the correlations  either confirmed our choices or suggested a reduction or increase of the number of questions of each subtest.

  • Time to allow the candidates for their performance. Statistics have given us information about the average time each candidate has required to perform in every subtest.

  • Cutting point for each subtest. Score analysis has allowed us to establish the percentage of correct answers required in order to assess a performance as ‘pass’ or as ‘fail’ and to establish different quality levels.

  • Marking scheme. Application of the correction criteria established so far has made it possible for the researchers and test writers to elaborate a more comprehensive and detailed document indicating the explicit criteria against which candidates’ language performances – written or spoken – has been judged.

The test-prototypes and the results of their validation have been examined in a detailed way by Prof. Charles Alderson from Lancaster University (one of the main experts on testing and certification in the world), who discussed them with the CERCLU Team in a seminar held at the University of Padua on 23-25 October 2003.

Expected Results

  • The consolidation of the professional knowledge of language testing issues on the part of the development team (Directors and Presidents of Italian Language Centres) and of their capacity to act together as leaders in the creation of a standardised system for the assessment and certification of language proficiency.

  • The design, development and description of a test for the assessment of two languages, English and Italian, which can be used as a model in the extension of the project to other European languages.

  • The creation of a large databank of items for language assessment, of protocols for the setting up of tests, and of systems for managing, creating and administering tests and for collecting and statistically elaborating the results.

  • Starting from the fourth year there will be an assessment and certification service for the benefit of the structures which use it.

  • For the first time there will be a system of assessment based on levels established by the Council of Europe created ad hoc for Italian university students. This system will be designed specifically for the needs of national universities, and will represent a significant saving for Italian universities compared with commercial solutions (UCLES or TOEFL). It is hoped that these certificates will be recognised by university language centres at a more general European level co-ordinated by CERCLES, the European association of university language centres .




Duration and Phases